Software snafu snags ATM transactions

By Thomas Hoffman, Computer World |  Networking

A software glitch that occurred during an upgrade of a system used to process automated teller machine transactions ended up slowing or corrupting up to 100,000 ATM transactions in late June and early July. The accounting snafu, which in some cases generated incorrect bank balances, affected roughly 1,000 ATMs in supermarkets and convenient stores that are managed by http://www.acs-inc.com/ " target=NEW>Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) in Dallas.

Analysts and ACS executives said the problem, which has since been repaired, had a minor impact on the company's expenses since it was isolated to low-volume ATMs which represented less than 3% of ACS' total ATM traffic during the peak problem period, June 24 to July 4. It was during that time that ACS was in the process of completing the remaining 25% of an upgrade to its ATM transaction processing system, said Tim Connor, president of ACS' e-commerce group.

ACS typically handles 20 million transactions a month. The ATMs affected by the software glitch each handle roughly 400 transactions per month, compared with the 1,200 to 1,500 transactions that filter through each of its bank branch ATMs.

"It wasn't a huge [cost] exposure," said Connor.

For ACS "it wasn't a trivial problem -- I'm sure they burned a lot of calories working on it. But in the grand scale, it was pretty minor,'' said Dirk Godsey, an analyst at Hambrecht & Quist in San Francisco.

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